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Title: Spinning the child : how records made for children construct childhood
Author: Maloy, L. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 5671
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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This study examines records that have been made for children and the role they play in the construction of particular discourses of childhood. Firstly, I attempt to define the category of children’s music through reference to texts, audiences and the wider industry. I examine how such definitions have changed over time. Secondly, I assess the role of the adults in the production of children’s records and attempt to answer questions about the dissemination of ideology. How do children’s records indicate how adults perceive children, what they want them to know, to understand, how they want them to behave, and what they want them to become? What are the dominant ideologies being communicated? What role does nostalgia play in the choices adults make in creating records for children? The investigation aims to redress the neglect of the academy by examining a range of case studies to reveal how specific children’s records reflect and construct specific childhoods in different social, historical and geographical contexts. As such, I provide analyses of a variety of discourses of childhood, and theoretical concepts before examining societal attitudes to children in contingent synchronic settings. I employ a structuralist approach to reveal the stability and endurance of specific ideologies of childhood, and to investigate the competing and often contradictory ways in which these have manifested themselves in specific examples of children’s music. The study ‘listens in’ on childhood and examines the conversations that adults have conducted with children through musical artefacts over the years. Through the use of a Children’s Music Quotient, I analyse the degree of ‘childness’ (Hollidale, 1997) of individual texts. Ideas of implied readership, agency and competence are employed to assess the impact of a range of texts on audiences with a range of childness. The study reveals how changes in children’s music map changes in discourses of childhood through the decades. Specifically, folk music of the 1940s and 1950s served to foster the child as a member of a community, and a citizen with wider social responsibilities. The intergenerational appeal of the music of BBC’s Children’s Choice in the 1950s and 1960s frames children as family members consuming partially-age-differentiated musical products at home. Records of the 1970s and 1980s from TV shows such as Sesame Street and Bagpuss serve to partially individuate the child as a viewer through the production of age-differentiated products. Children’s records of the 1990s from The Wiggles, Hannah Montana and tween produce increasingly-individuated consumers of transmedial products. By the early 2000s, Kidz Bop and Pop Jr. related to the child as a consumer with rights and an identity driven by consumption. A study of music from the 2010s reveals the child as a consumer-producer framed in an intergenerational infantilised society.
Supervisor: Jarman, F. ; Kassabian, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral